Concussions or other traumatic brain injury are injuries that are not visibly evident. Insurance companies often claim that absent a visible injury no compensation should be provided.
Adults are more prone to discuss changes in their brain, thinking and abilities with their spouse, co-workers and physician. This is because adults experience greater fears of how a traumatic brain injury will impact their ability to fulfill their responsibilities, care for themselves and provide a living. Medical records or a deposition of a loved one serves as evidence of brain injury in the case of an adult. Additionally the loss of employment or a change in job positions evidences the impact a brain injury has left on the life of an adult.
However, it can be harder to prove a concussion or severe brain injury in a child since no (or few) children will ever have conversations with their parents or teachers regarding a change in their mental acuity. Additionally, children are still dependent on others and do not yet fear the inability to care or provide for themselves. Is there a way to prove that a child has sustained a traumatic brain injury or a concussion?
A personal injury lawyer will likely ask the parent of the child to provide photos demonstrating the activities that their child is (was) involved in. This may include sporting events, physical activities, scholastic achievements, or any other kind of after school activity. Interviews may be obtained with people involved in the child’s life on a daily basis – coaches, teachers, daycare provider, parents and perhaps even other older siblings. Conversations with these ones may contain information that can serve as evidence of changes in the child’s achievements, acuity, behavior, etc. School records from high school, junior high, elementary school and perhaps even pre-school may be requested. Besides evidencing a child’s school performance, these records may contain teacher remarks about the child mental acuity before an injury. A comparison of grades pre-concussion and post-concussion can be done which may show evidence of the injury impacting the child’s performance. Evidence of awards and certificates pre-injury and the lack thereof post-injury may also demonstrate the child’s lost potential.
If a severe brain injury has occurred and will potentially severely impact the child’s future a claim for future lost earning capacity may be made. A personal injury lawyer will likely hire a pediatric neurological specialist or a psychiatric expert who has experience with children to discuss with a jury how the traumatic brain injury will impact their education now and how this will impact their future (or potential) ability to work. National data may be consulted to provide statistical averages to determine a potential figure that can be used as the potential lost earning capacity a child has sustained. A change in academic performance and/or the inability to complete schooling at a certain level will also play a role in determining future employability.
Children do not naturally enjoy speaking to adults about fear, trauma or disability. Therefore they may not present well when testifying in a formal situation, such as in front of a lot of people during a trial or mediation. A personal injury lawyer may request the court to allow the child testify in the judges chambers or mediation via closed circuit television, or perhaps through a video taped deposition.
If your child sustained a concussion or a severe brain injury, discuss any changes you notice in the child’s behavior, academics or thinking with their medical providers. If you suspect a brain injury is impacting your child, you should speak with your the teachers, coaches or daycare providers involved in your child’s life to get greater clarity and discuss this with the medical providers involved. If you have hired a personal injury lawyer, discuss the changes you notice and the actions being taken by medical providers and teachers.
I’m Edward Smith of the Edward A Smith Law Offices (AutoAccident.com) and have more than 30 years experience in handling traumatic brain injury and concussion claims in children and adults. Please feel free to discus the details regarding your child’s injury with me in a free no obligation consultation which can be done via telphone or at my office or wherever you prefer to meet. I can be reached via my website, via phone (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 or email me at Ed@AutoAccident.com.
Photo attribution: By Illinois AITC (Illinois AITC) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons